Unfortunately, There’s No Substitute For Hard Work

Richard Earls, Travel Research Online

What is the calculus of success? Is there a formula to being really good at whatever you most want to do?

One of the really great characteristics about children is their unfailing knowledge they can do anything.  Draw a picture? Hand them the crayons. Play the drums? Give them those sticks. Converse about the universe? Have a seat and lend an ear.

Somewhere along the way, we adults learn to limit ourselves. We become convinced of our personal borders. We accept we aren’t musical, we can’t draw, we decide our intelligence has severe limitations. We circumscribe ourselves even as to activities we have never tried!  Can you sculpt a figurine out of a block of stone? How do you know? Why are you certain you cannot do something you have never tried? And if you have tried, how many times?

An unfortunate consequence of the logistics of our educational system is the certainty we develop over time we are good at a very few things and no good at most others. Convinced of the small parameters of our playground, we fence ourselves in with these limiting mythologies. In a time of increasing specialization, the Renaissance ideal, the polymath, has become ever more distant.

It appears as children we inherit all of the great qualities of inspiration, imagination, and creativity only to decide later to put them away and not use them. Yet, without these qualities we are forced to adopt mediocrity as the platform from which we live our lives and, for our purposes here, operate our businesses. I continually hear from travel professionals who begin their conversations with me by saying “I can’t…”

Let me repeat my often stated assertion: I am not talking about positive thinking. I’m actually no big fan of simplistic notions fostered by way too many motivational speakers. Success has more to do with working smart and working hard than whistling while you work. Of course, once you have the first two down, a little music never hurt things.

Let’s go back to the day you decided to enter the travel business. Remember the child-like enthusiasm with which you began? Did any one of you get into your new business proclaiming “I’m going to be really average at this”? I doubt it. At the beginning of any enterprise, we always manage to again tap into that creative wellspring and enthusiasm so easily accessed by children.

What we all need is a bit more naiveté about our potential.

It’s well known the idea of talent is overrated. Tiger Woods was not born a golfer. However, he was born to a golf coach and began practicing at age 3. Amazing what 34 years of practice every day of your life will do for your game.

Maybe what is lacking here is a willingness to open up to the potential you have to be capable of anything you determine to do. Being a great travel professional, or anything else for that matter, is not a matter of innate talent. The best travel consultants I have met are simply hard workers who don’t give up. They listen to the industry’s business coaches, they attend webinars they learn from their mistakes.

Contemplate the possibility you can do anything you want to do and you can do it well. You just have to practice, you have to be willing to move beyond early successes that don’t resemble anything like perfection.

Pick up a musical instrument and learn to play. Teach yourself a new language. Learn to sculpt. Take a risk on starting the newsletter, undertaking a speaking engagement, or entering a new market.

Sometimes it takes years to be an overnight success. That is the real math of success.

Richard Earls is the Publisher of Travel Research Online, an online travel industry resource dedicated to enhancing the professional lives of travel agents.

(will not be published)